Reads out text
If you have any concerns or would simply like to discuss the options available to you, you may find our free 30 minute advice sessions useful.

Dyslexia Action supporter Margaret Rooke has written a book featuring interviews with 23 well-known, successful people with dyslexia to inspire her daughter and raise funds for Dyslexia Action.

Creative, Successful, Dyslexia by Margaret Rooke

Sharing her story, Margaret said:

“When I discovered my teenage daughter had dyslexia I was shocked and concerned. She seemingly steered herself through early education without difficulty but by 11 she had all but stopped learning. The realisation that something was not right, followed by a diagnosis of dyslexia, meant we suddenly had no idea of what the future might hold.

I talked about this to another mother I know, whose son is dyslexic. She told me that soon after her son was diagnosed with dyslexia she had spotted a story in a newspaper that mentioned that businessman Sir Richard Branson was dyslexic, along with many other leading entrepreneurs. She stuck the article to her son’s bed. From that moment on he began to gain hope and it is still there today, 14 years later.

The idea for the book came from this story, my family’s experiences and from other parents I have spoken to along the way. I hope that the book, which shares the experiences of successful people with dyslexia, will inspire today’s generation of young people to achieve what they want in life.

I spoke to 23 successful, high profile people. Although many found school tough, they all believe that dyslexia has played a positive role in their careers. That’s a great message for today’s younger generation.

When I started, I thought I was writing the book for my daughter and other young people with dyslexia to encourage them to pursue their dreams. As I started interviewing people, I realised the book was also for parents – to help us to understand that our job is to support and have faith in our children no matter what. 

When I finished writing, I also realised how useful the book might be for teachers and others working in education. I think it gives a real insight into what is going on for the child with dyslexia sitting in their classroom – a child who might be sitting there struggling and distracted, but who might have the potential to be a world class actor, photographer, great writer or captain of the England rugby team! Everyone can be encouraged to do the best they can and aim for the area of work they love.

One of the main positive messages from the interviews in this book is how the encouragement and support of just one adult can boost a child with dyslexia, even one whose self-confidence and self-belief is really suffering. We can all be that encouraging person for someone with dyslexia.

I would love this book to help parents feel less anxious; to help young people feel the world is theirs to grasp and to raise vital funds for Dyslexia Action.   I would be delighted if, in some small way, it helps to raise further awareness of dyslexia and of how important it is for teachers to have initial teacher training in specific learning difficulties - something Dyslexia Action is calling for.”

 ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’ will be published this Thursday (3rd September) and includes contributions from Darcey Bussell CBE, David Bailey CBE, Sir Richard Branson, Steven Naismith, Zoë Wanamaker CBE and more. Part of the proceeds will go to Dyslexia Action.

You can buy the book through traditional high street bookshops, online or via Dyslexia Action. You can also win a copy of the book, find out more here

When they start the summer holidays feel as if they are going to last forever! When September arrives we know the autumn term at school is just around the corner.  Schools are often used as the settings for books because it’s an environment that the readers are familiar with.  It’s reassuring to know that the characters from books we love also have to go school and have to deal with the pressures of homework and exams, difficult teachers and the challenges of friendships.

Charlie and Lola: I am too absolutely small for school by Lauren Child    Age 3 and above

Lola has been told that it will soon be time for her to start school.  She is not sure she has time for school as she is very busy and her invisible friend, Soren Lorenson, is worried about going to school on his own.

Harry and the dinosaurs go to school – Ian Whybrow     Age 3 and above

Harry is very nervous on his first day of school and is very pleased to have his dinosaurs to keep him company.  He notices another boy who clinging to his toy bulldozer and refusing to talk to anyone.  Harry decides to see if he and the dinosaurs can help.

Harry and the dinosaurs go to school – Ian Whybrow

Topsy and Tim start school – Jean and Gareth Adamson                Age 3 and above

The Topsy and Tim series of books have recently been updated with new artwork but the twins are still instantly recognisable.  This book aims to reassure readers who are about to start school that school is fun and show them what they might expect to happy in lessons and in the playground.

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg         Age 6 and above

This fantastic collection of lively poems about school life recently celebrated its 30th birthday.  It is still as able as it always was to engage and entertain readers using rhyming and rhythmic poems to describe the strange and unusual things that happen in primary schools.

The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy  Age 6 and above

Mildred Hubble is a pupil at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches.  She often makes an awful mess of her spells and always has trouble flying her broomstick.  In the first in the series of 6 books Mildred’s errors and mistakes create are entertaining but readers will be amazed as she manages to save the day in the end!

Puppy academy: Scout and the sausage thief by Gillian Lewis    Age 6 and above

Scout the puppy dreams of catching Frank Furter the Sausage Thief.  Attending lessons at The Puppy Academy should be preparing her to become a police dog like her mum and dad but she keeps making mistakes and causing problems.  Can she solve the crimes and make up for her mistakes?

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: (Middle School 1) by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts  Age 9 and above

Rafe Khatchadorian has an ace plan to make his first year at Middle School the best year ever.  He decides to try to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class, running in the hallway   and pulling the fire alarm! When Rafe's game starts to catch up with him, he'll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he's finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he's been avoiding.

Wonder by RJ Palacio    Age 10 and above

Auggie was born with a terrible facial abnormality and has been home-schooled his whole life. He has decided that he wants to attend a real school - and he's dreading it. He wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all? 

Itch by Simon Mayo        Age 10 and above

Itchingham Lofte is different from other year 10 boys. Instead of football or computer games, his passion is chemistry. This involves explosions, missing eyebrows, school poisonings and terrible smells.  When Itch buys a piece of what he thinks is uranium for his element collection he gradually realises that he now owns a new, radioactive, element which, in the wrong hands, could destroy the world. Oil companies, terrorist cells and the government all want Itch's rock. Who will succeed in control this powerful new element?

Itch by Simon Mayo

Combat zone - Rugby Academy – Tom Palmer   Age 10 and above

Woody has been told he must attend Borderlands boarding school as his dad is being posted abroad with the RAF.  Initially football Woody is not impressed that the school is totally rugby focussed and tries to leave.  When he eventually realises that he has no choice but to stay at the school he discovers a talent he never knew he had!

Within these books are stories about pupils who find school challenging in a variety of ways.  There are lots more books about school out there and many of these books are the first in a series, hopefully there is a book for you in this list which will remind you that going back to school in September isn’t as bad as it might seem.


Read, share, enjoy!

I hope that this monthly blog will give readers ideas about which books might appeal to those who are reluctant to read or have dyslexia. Dyslexia Action’s leaflet encouraging young reluctant readers is a good start for those who are looking to support young reluctant readers and readers with dyslexia. Dyslexia Action also offers tuition with specialist teachers to support those who may need extra help. Once needs have been identified, our specialist teachers can work with children, young people and adults to develop coping strategies that can assist with skills like reading and writing. For some, extra tuition can be a life-line.

The Book Blog is written by Alison Keeley who looks after Dyslexia Action’s Learning Centres in the South of England. Prior to joining Dyslexia Action Alison worked as a Deputy Head and for Booktrust. She has always read a wide range of children’s literature even though she technically stopped being a child some time ago. If you have any questions or suggestions about subjects for future blogs please do leave a comment below.

Reading hints and tips leaflet for young reluctant readers


Six new trustees will be joining the Dyslexia Action Board this autumn to support our work and plans to help more people.

The Trustee Board is responsible for the overall running and strategic direction of Dyslexia Action. Together, the new trustees bring a wealth of experience to the Board including skills in building and developing organisations, leading educational establishments and working closely with government departments.

In 2013 we launched an ambitious five year strategy to help more people with dyslexia, literacy and numeracy difficulties. The Board will continue to work to meet the goals of this strategy.

Speaking about the appointments, Chair of the Board Anna Tylor said, “The six new trustees join Dyslexia Action at an exciting time, I look forward to working with them as we move closer to achieving our goal of supporting more people.”

The new members of the Board are Andy Gregson, James Matthews, Rosco Paterson, Aktar Somalya, Paul Webb and Paula Whittle.  You can find out more about our Trustee Board here.

You Tube
Dominik Lukes

Where do you go when you need to learn something? You may take a class, ask a friend, read a book in the library or Google it? But do you ever go on YouTube? For me, it’s often one of the first places I look. Read on to find out more.

You Tube

How does YouTube work?

Everybody’s heard of YouTube. But most people think about as a source of funny clips about cats or the place to find music clips. But YouTube is so much more. YouTube is also a community of YouTube creators who call themselves YouTubers and many of whom now create content for YouTube as their main job and have hundreds of thousands of even millions of subscribers on their YouTube channels. They make money by sharing advertising revenue, selling T-shirts or consulting with companies.

YouTube has also generated YouTube stars with huge followings who there are creator conferences that draw thousands of fans (like Vidcon). Among the most popular genres on YouTube are:

  • Let’s plays: recordings of people playing video games with commentary
  • Music: From professional music videos to tutorials on how to play the guitar
  • Life and beauty advice
  • Vlogging: YouTube personalities sharing life and thoughts on video
  • Sketch comedy
  • How to videos, reviews and education

YouTube safety

Parents and teachers will wonder how safe is YouTube? On average, YouTube is safer than the Internet as a whole because it excludes explicit adult content and most egregious violence. However,  many videos will use adult language and deal with adult themes. YouTube also has a comment section that (as any online forum) can be a place of personal attacks or even bullying.

On balance, the good far outweighs the bad and avoiding YouTube means giving up on wonderful learning opportunities. But parents should definitely monitor what their children watch on YouTube – which is made easy by the viewing the History tab.

What can you learn on YouTube?

You can learn almost anything on YouTube. From small things to whole courses.


  • Reviews of hardware and software - Tip: Before you buy something online, search YouTube to see if somebody’s reviewed it. It helps seeing things in real life.
  • Tutorials on using hardware and software - Tip: When you need to learn how to use some software, search YouTube. You will likely find several people showing you how to use it.
  • Load2Learn tips on assistive technologies - Tip: To get an overview of assistive technologies, have  a look at our collection of tips we created for Load2Learn.

Life skills and hobbies

There is no end of people sharing their hobbies or skills on YouTube.  Almost anything you’d like to see or learn how to do is presented on YouTube. Some tutorials are of very high quality.

  • Cooking
  • DYI / Car Repair / Maker skills
  • Driving
  • Make-up and hair
  • Musical instruments
  • Sailing
  • Swimming

Personal YouTube tips

I use YouTube to learn all the time. Here are the things I’ve looked up in the last few years:

  • I bought a Ukulele and a Mandolin and learned to play them entirely using YouTube tutorials. I also use YouTube videos to learn how to play particular songs on the guitar or the piano.
  •  I use YouTube as a cookbook. I find it much more useful to see the process of cooking something rather than just a recipe.
  • I was wondering if I’m swimming the breast stroke correctly, so I looked up a demonstration video on YouTube.
  • I’ve looked at a video on how to change a headlight on my car (and decided it’s better to have someone else do it)
  • I’ve made the decision on whether a phone I wanted to buy is too large by watching someone demonstrate it on YouTube. It was just right.
  • I learned how to remove the background from a photo in Photoshop.

School subjects at all levels

But YouTube is also the place to go for more academic learning. There are videos for learners of all ages and all subjects. From learning to read with synthetic phonics to particle physics of Greek philosophy.

General Learning Channels

Some channels cover a variety of subjects.

  • Khan Academy is the best known and focuses on school subjects. It is comprehensive (covers the entire curriculum) and comprehensible but very learning focused. It is particularly good for maths and science revision.
  • Crash Course covers more highlights of various subjects and focuses on making learning fun.

Maths and Science

In addition, there are channels that have a very particular focus.


Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology)



Entertainment and Gaming

Let’s Plays for children, teenagers and adults (for examples: Stampy - minecraft)

Alternatives to YouTube for learning from video?

There are other places you can learn things by watching instructional video. These are often not free but may be worth the money if you need specialist skills.

  • paid subscription to courses and tutorials on all subjects (mostly related to technology).
  • free and paid courses on many subjects.
  • Sites for specific subjects (IT Pro TV for course certification, for videos about the free CMS Drupal).

Share your favourite channels

Let us know what are your favourite YouTube channels for learning on Facebook.


Word document version of this post

What should we cover next?

If you’d like to suggest what else this blog can cover, you can add your voice to the roadmap document.


Note: Watch this video before you download and install any free software.

Dominik Lukes - Education and Technology Specialist


A think tank has recommended that schools should pay a fine to Further Education (FE) Colleges for those students who don’t make the grade at school and will need to take re-sits in College.

According to the report ’Crossing the Line’, students who do not get a C Grade in GCSE English or maths at 16, will be required to study for these qualifications again in further education.  Moreover, the option of entering some students for a less demanding course has been removed because, it said that “from September 2015 institutions will be required to enter D grade students for GCSE courses rather than lower level qualifications ones which lack the labour market value of a GCSE”.

The report argues that this is placing a burden on FE Colleges which reflects failures early in the system.

The report author, Natasha Porter, commenting on the report, said:

“That’s why our report today recommends that schools are required to pay a ‘resit levy’ to FE Colleges for any student that fails to get a C in GCSE English or maths, who has also failed to make expected levels of progress through their time at secondary school.

Schools are improving standards year on year. Yet there are some who are unfairly passing the buck to FE Colleges – who are already facing extreme funding pressures – to fix a problem they have not caused themselves. Our levy ensures that they make a financial contribution towards raising standards for everyone.”

Dyslexia Action urges the Government to roundly reject this suggestion because such a system would:

  • Pass the problem on to a sector who are, on the whole, no better equipped to support those with specific difficulties in literacy and/or numeracy. 
  • Withdraw vital funds from schools that could be invested in improving pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills.
  • A fine system could be counterproductive as schools may be encouraged to ’plan for failure’ rather than risk investing to address the difficulties that learners are facing. Even though the report proposed that children with special educational needs should be excluded, children who have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia are not always recognised as having special educational needs. 

Focus should instead be upon training

Numerous reports (including the white paper ‘The Importance of Teaching’) have documented that many teachers feel ill-equipped to deliver literacy, numeracy and IT, all key skills. Therefore we should instead be investing in our teachers so that they are equipped to help deliver the standards their students need.

We believe that we will not see a significant impact on levels of achievement unless there is a systemic change to teacher training that includes an emphasis on supporting children with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.  Without adequate training and professional development opportunities, many young people will continue to find themselves denied access to learning and employment opportunities, leading to higher welfare costs and an impact on economic growth.



Subscribe to Dyslexia Action RSS